What is the story about?
The film charts the rise of Rashmi as a national-level sprinter, and how she fights back when she is banned from athletics on the charge of being a man.
The first thing you think of while watching Rashmi Rocket is its scale. This is a sports drama that should have been ideally seen on the big screen, because of the broad strokes with which Rashmi's world is painted. Akarsh Khurana's direction doesn't lack anything particularly, and Aniruddha Guha's writing is much more settled than it was in Malang. And yet you feel underwhelmed while watching the film, which takes inspiration from controversies surrounding various athletes such as Pinky Pramanik and Dutee Chand. Gender testing is an issue that has dogged women's athletics in India for decades, and no film, apart from Chak De India and Dangal has actually spoken about the corruption rampant in various sports federations. Rashmi Rocket offered the perfect opportunity to its makers to tell the story of India's sporting culture in Rashmi's success and struggles. However, Khurana and Guha are too constrained by the tropes of the sports-drama genre and play it safe. And where the film truly falters is in that second half, where, instead of nuance and tact, you get melodrama in the courtroom sequences featuring Rashmi's defence lawyer Eeshit. It has its high points, but you wish Rashmi Rocket was more ambitious in its storytelling than it turns out to be.
Taapsee Pannu's Rashmi is the glue that holds this film together, bringing nuance and grit to a role that she could have so easily messed up by hamming. Priyanshu Painyuli is solid in his portrayal of Gagan, a marathon coach in the Indian Army, who becomes Rashmi's trainer and partner. Supriya Pathak Kapur is assured as Rashmi's mother, while Varun Badola has a scenery-chewing turn as the president of the athlectics federation whose daughter is Rashmi's rival. However, Abhishek Banerjee is saddled with perhaps the most underwritten role of his career, the defence lawyer Eeshit Mehta, with his bombastic arguments in court messing up the equilibrium of the film in the second half.
Music & Other Departments
Amit Trivedi's score is decent. Neha Parti Matiyani's lensing is all right.
Taapsee Pannu and Priyanshu Painyuli's performances are major highlights. The first half charting Rashmi's rise as a sprinter and her training with Gagan are also nicely done.
The writing falters and resorts to tired melodrama in the second half.
Did I enjoy it?
I enjoyed the first half, but things went downhill in the second half.
Do I recommend it?
You can give this a one-time watch.